Thursday, February 8, 2007

the post gets it straight on slow growth

Montgomery County needs to get its act together. Officials in Alexandria are actually struggling to make the Carlyle district a new, vibrant downtown for the city, while we have nothing short of success in Silver Spring and Bethesda. And our people have the gall to say "stop"? It's ridiculous.

I wasn't going to say anything about this Post article given how much I've already written on the no-growthers in Montgomery County, but I think it was a nice slap in the face for anyone who says moratoriums (moratoria?) are the answer. It lays out the facts in a even-handed manner: yes, we can stop building in areas where the schools are overcrowded, but if we just rest on our laurels and don't build more schools to alleviate the pressure, the Evil Developers will just take their business elsewhere (see Huntfield, West Virginia.) And, of course, our traffic will be just as bad.

Speaking of traffic: It looks like the Purple Line might have to wait even longer for funding, even after the lobby-fest in Annapolis last month. Transit boosters are cautiously optimistic about bringing light-rail to Montgomery and Prince George's counties, but Action Committee for Transit President Hans Riemer (hey, that name sounds familiar!) says transit boosters are "focusing on next year" to get something done.

TOMORROW: We'll look at one Bethesda resident who stands to lose a lot from the Purple Line.


Anonymous said...

You're being too harsh on the county council. The proposed moratorium had a full exception for development in downtown Silver Spring and Bethesda and almost anywhere else near a Metro station.

Let's wait and see what the council does about development rules. I'm hoping that they will sweep away some of the rules that force urban developments to look like ugly suburbs with excessive parking and dead spaces out front, at the same time as they discourage strip malls and tract housing.

Anonymous said...

Terry, I'm 29 years old and grew in Oxon Hill & Friendly, MD. I can remember the little 2-3 acre farmettes along Old Palmer Rd. selling the their own produce on roadside stands. Mind you, this is within 3 miles of the DC line.

I knew kids at my high school who picked tobacco at farms in Croom & Upper Marlboro for extra cash during the summer.

Take a look at an aerial map nowadays and the green areas are disappearing almost overnight.

You're right on the money when it comes to redeveloping what we have now.

Anonymous said...

I had hoped that the "slow growth" supporters on the Council were hoping to slow down development of the County's rapidly disappearing open, green spaces, and not existing urban areas like Rockville or Bethesda.

In their heart of hearts, I suspect big developers don't really give a damn about preserving green space. After all, isn't that just space that they CAN'T make money on? Given the fact that, once a piece of ground is developed and built upon, it's gone for good, i.e., that piece of green, open space isn't likely to ever be recovered.

I feel it's really high time to err on the side of slow-growth, and more carefully consider the impact of sprawl on the quality of our lives, and the inability of our infrastructure to keep pace with the added demands. To that end, it makes perfect sense to concentrate development in those areas already serviced by Metro (or to expand Metro, which is LONG overdue) and existing transportation services, rather than hacking down another forest for a sprawling development miles from the nearest public transportation, and then forcing the people to get into their car on already-clogged secondary and arterial roadways.

Anonymous said...

Sorry If I'm loading this MoCo blog with too much PG County history!

Terry, it's a small world.

Mrs. Kirby was my MD History teacher in 4th grade. Great lady. She must have been in her 90's when she taught us. She had Mike Miller & Steny Hoyer personally talk to our class about local history and civic pride!

The Kirby's were one of the last holdouts from "old" PG County. I remember watching the workmen bulldoze the two vacant farmhouses and market building on their property. Last time I drove down Indian Head Hwy, I noticed their land was still vacant, but a developer sign was advertising homes starting in the $400's.

My dad gradated from FHS in the mid 70's, but I actually went on to McNamara in Forestville (another area ripe for change).

Dan Reed said...

Montgomery County is already very good at steering development to Metro stations - every single Metro station in the County has development going on within a mile (if you're confused about Glenmont, don't forget the Indian Spring redevelopment.) What we aren't seeing, however, are housing geared towards families. Million-dollar condos are nice, but they aren't keeping families from moving to Clarksburg and beyond. A family could definitely live in an apartment if it's designed for them (hell, mine did.) I think requiring more three- and four-bedroom apartments or subsidized housing near Metro stations would go a long way.

As for P.G. County - we have to see massive development inside the Beltway for things to really change. There's an article on Planetizen about declining inner suburbs in Richmond which says that old suburban areas (like District Heights, etc.) have the social problems of cities but none of the charms (particularly the older houses) that make them attractive for reinvestment. It'll be harder to revitalize P.G. County, but as long as the will and the money are there, anything's possible.

In the meantime, Hyattsville-College Park, Oxon Hill and the Landover-Largo area will start to swing upscale really soon. I personally am looking forward to Prince George's first Hollister store, even though I will not shop there.